Last night I had the November 8th Presidential election on my brain. It was rough. The prognosticators’ insistence that Hillary Clinton will win has given me hope that the worst outcome might be avoided. I remain in the loony minority that believes Trump will win, but I’m feeling less panicky about that possibility than before Donald’s braggadocious bus banter went public. Everybody says I’m wrong, which would delight me.
Imagining four years of sniffles, funky lips and finger gesticulations behind the Presidential Seal didn’t have me drowning my sorrows with plenty of cheap red, though. My blog friend Michelle at The Green Study passed along to me news of statements from Republican leaders that may turn our nation’s capital into Washington, T.D. (Washington, Thunder Dome).
I’ve been harboring a naïve expectation that governance might be improved by a second Clinton administration. After all, Republicans have as their standard bearer a candidate Colin Powell called a “national disgrace.” You’d think such a bizarre reality would give the party pause and call them to reflection and a pinch of humility. “Maybe we should quit with the obstructionism and reach across the aisle for the good of the country,” some emerging Republican leader might say. “Maybe we should try to arrive at consensus, to pass the best legislation possible through give and take.”
As Steve Martin’s Theodoric of York famously used to say on Saturday Night Live, “Naaahhh!” Republicans are already preparing White House warming gifts for Clinton. At least they waited for Barack Obama to show up in town before they wrapped his present. At least they had the good taste to make their let’s-vex-the-President operation covert in the beginning.
Apparently, Hillary won’t even raise her hand for the Oath of Office before she faces a full-frontal, relentless, gleeful assault. 2017-2020 might make the last eight years look like thumb wrestling.
First up, Arizona Senator John McCain, who appears sane most days. According to the Washington Post, the thirty-four-year member of Congress said in a radio interview, “I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up.” By afternoon McCain’s office tried to tone down his threat, but Democrats were having none of it. Couch sitting last night, my wife Kathy and I felt the chill of paralysis creep over two branches of government.
Batting second, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who until last week refused to endorse his party’s nominee. The Washington Post now reports not only the House Oversight Committee Chair’s change of heart, but also his plans for Hillary’s welcome to the Oval Office. His vote, David Weigel writes, frees “him up to prepare for . . . spending years, come January, probing the record of a President Hillary Clinton.”
Chaffetz gushes, “Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain’t good.” He calls his committee “the tip of the spear.” There’s a lot of blood on that weapon already, and those on the business end of it are still standing. Spearing people is more fun than collaborating, though, and the media never tire of color commentary.
Neither McCain’s nor Chaffetz’s statements made the NBC Nightly News, which is unfortunate. For the past eight years I’ve listened to folks complain about the dysfunction in Washington as if both parties share equal blame. Journalists and scholars with bigger brains than mine have painstakingly documented that while Democrats aren’t without guilt, Republicans are the primary cause of the sad state of United States governance.
Four years ago Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein—the former a liberal, the latter a conservative, and both well-respected scholars—wrote the best statement of the case against the once proud Party of Lincoln. Their provocative title: “Let’s just say it: Republicans are the problem.” We’re talking a five-minute read, well worth the time.
It’s important to note that Mann and Ornstein accuse Republicans, not conservatives. I may actually have more conservative than liberal friends, and I agree with some of their views. I trust their good will and intellects and am pained by the sleep-killing bind they’re in. One candidate is appalling, as one friend said, and the other goes against his basic political convictions. There’s no winning.
I found last night wretched because of the sinking feeling that in eleven days every one of us will lose. One candidate might just start blowing shit up. The other candidate will be punished mercilessly and don the shackles worn by her predecessor. And citizens—even those who rejoice in the spectacle—will be cheapened as human beings and cheated as Americans.
Could our beautiful country come out of this ugly season with nobility in tact? Maybe, but I feel as if I’m watching my team coming to bat in the bottom of the ninth, down by more than a grand slam.
Of course, we’re all on the same team. We’ve just forgotten.